Dirty laundry at the Times of India?

By Sanchit on Tuesday, April 27, 2010

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Times of india biased
MUMBAI - It's official: the world's largest-circulated English daily has been involved in some shady business. Exposing a long-known trade fact, a leading Mumbai English tabloid, Mid-Day, last week published the "rates" for purchasing editorial features in the Times of India. The Times has not issued a denial, and the rogue rate card seems to be the latest indicator of rotting media ethics and tolerance in India for corruption.

For sums ranging from US$45,000 to $66,000, the Mid-Day story alleged, one could buy a news feature plugging their business, get interviewed (the business owner supplies the questions and answers themselves) and have their picture published on the much-scorned Page 3 of the Bombay Times, the city supplement of the Times of India.

In the United States or the United Kingdom, uproar would have erupted after the expose. But the Times of India (TOI) was not even pressed to explain the allegation to its 4.5 million estimated readers, or to any regulatory body. Instead, some attempted to defend the indefensible. Shobhaa De, novelist and acidic columnist, incredibly called the TOI move "brave" and the "future of journalism", never mind the reader being taken for a ride, if not criminal fraud, with no distinct boundaries marked between news and advertisements.

In a brazen display of contempt for the basic tenets of journalism, the "service"' meant that the clear divide between advertisement and editorial was blurred for a negotiable price. The Times of India is already infamous for often plugging its own businesses, such as its search engine and web portal, in its news pages.

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